My homepage has a headshot of me. I call the photo on this page a “bodyshot”. Our bodies are where our stories live. They house both our power and our pain. Here is a little of my story and the power and pain I feel in it.
23 years ago, at the age of 19, I said to myself, "I will not survive if I stay me". By that time in my life, I had spent many years growing up in a dysfunctional, covert narcissistic household. In a narcissistic household, each family member plays a very confined role when conflict arises. My dad and I were cast in the role of scapegoat. Any time there was conflict, he and I were the ones to shame and blame for everything. My dad got labeled the perpetrator. I got labeled the selfish brat.
My parents did not know how to resolve conflicts inclusively. They were so stressed out all the time trying to survive and move up from a lower-middle class lifestyle. I watched my parents work really hard to shift us from surviving to thriving so we could experience the American Dream that had been sold to us. Their constant focus on survival and upward mobility left them depleted. So whenever conflicts broke out, there was no time or energy to really work through them. Everyone got thrown into their roles, the shame and blame would get projected onto us scapegoats, and then we'd all go about life as though nothing had happened. There was never resolution or reconciliation where everyone felt seen and heard.
By the age of 19, I had so many unresolved emotional wars with my parents trapped around my heart. I had also just experienced a huge betrayal from my best friend and boyfriend. My heart had reached a point where it needed to numb out. It said, "I will not survive if I stay me". Out of self-preservation, I started covering myself up with many socially created identity labels. Who I was became attached to what I did, how much money I made, and how others saw me. I was an Army officer, a mother, a student, a no-drama business woman, an artist, a massage therapist, and a lyft driver. I have had all of these life experiences and am still working as a massage therapist and lyft driver. I intend to draw on all my life experience as congresswoman. These experiences and identities are important. They bring color and originality to my story. However, none of them define the real me.
I’ve been bringing the real, whole, heart-led me back together and up to the surface since January 2015. I did not do this alone. I've had talk therapy, massage therapy, yoga, dance, and those who stayed with me through my raw emotional expression. I now know I will only survive if I stay me. That being said, I also know that only a few people will ever see, feel, and hear the story of the real me. It takes having a deep and close relationship that can resolve and reconcile through conflict for that to happen.
The real, whole, heart-led me is an emotional soul. I'm back in touch with my soul’s instincts and know exactly how to share myself with others. I shared my vulnerable soul with others for almost five years. I spoke up and out about my pain and the pain I feel in the United States. I didn't speak up and out in a politically correct manner either. One could liken my voice to that of a rebellious and know-it-all teenager. I was talking back. From late 2015 to late 2017, I talked back privately to my therapist, my family, my friends, my intimate partner, and my doctors. Then from late 2017 up until just recently, my voice went public. I talked back to leaders in pretty much every social system we have. I talked back to leaders in my workplace, in law, in medicine, in politics, in the military, in education, in art, in public broadcast, in activism, and in church. I also went public with my voice and feelings on YouTube and on my blogvlog, My So-Called Past Life.
Through all of it, my voice has been treated like a dangerous weapon or a pathology much like it was in my home growing up. I was the selfish, crazy, and mean brat all over again. There were only a few people who unconditionally loved me and stayed in relationship with me through the whole journey. Those people are my dad, his wife, my daughter, my youngest sister and her family, a few close friends, my massage therapist, and my current talk therapist. What I realize now that the journey has come full circle is it is not my parents fault that our household was a dysfunctional, covert narcissistic one that didn't know how to peacefully resolve conflict.
The United States was founded on dysfunctional, covert narcissism. There is one identity that has been considered fully human since the beginning. That is the straight, white, christian, educated, affluent, emotionally two dimensional, male. This identity was cast in the role of golden child by our founding fathers. The golden child is the favorite one in a narcissistic family. They can do no wrong. We have all had to reflect that image in order to gain privilege and feel loved. All other identity labels get scapegoated through emotionally violent judgment. The judgment of these labels has been branded into our souls and blood memory. It has kept us segregated by race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. We are not segregated with printed signs or written laws anymore. We are segregated with microaggressive signs and implicitly biased laws. I am ready to be a leader for us to move through the era of covert narcissism, identity judgment, and segregation and into the era of self-differentiation, soul expression, and integration.
I am running for office because: 1) I am a holistic leader, and congress is the governing body of all our systems, 2) My personal story of soul and identity integration is needed in the arena, 3) I am making room for my daughter to remain embodied in her emotional soul, so she can step into her own leadership and calling some day, and 4) I am back in touch with the young woman I was at 19. I decided to be an Army officer back then for the financial security, leadership challenge, and opportunity to be a part of something bigger than me. I didn't know I would experience PTSD, panic disorder, and severe anxiety while and after serving. I fortunately never saw combat. I was a part of the Kosovo Peacekeeping mission in 2001. Being in an organization designed for war was scary enough for me to feel extreme fear on a regular basis. War is not in our human nature. However, we have been conditioned to fight, compete, and judge. People still need to trust their survival instincts while also recognizing when it's time to feel through them in order to start shifting from surviving to thriving. I want to be a congresswoman for all the reasons I wanted to be an Army officer: financial security, leadership challenge, and opportunity to be a part of something bigger than me. I'm also ready to be a leader for us to feel through our survival instincts back into an era where we thrive.
This country has been warring since its founding, and our troops are still being called to fight today. It's going to take a while for us to grow up and evolve out of the warring, narcissistic dynamic within our United States family.
It took me five years to grow up and evolve out of my own dysfunction and narcissism. My soul power and pain has integrated with my identity power and pain, and I can feel my life shifting from surviving to thriving. This shift is not going to happen overnight or in an emotionally comfortable way. I'm ready to represent those who want to shift and feel with me.
Jaimie Kulikowski for Congress
Remember. Integrate. Reframe.
Say anything. Talk back.